Cheika warns Wallabies to stay focused

Michael Cheika wants his players to keep focused

Australia coach Michael Cheika has warned his players not to get dragged into any rivalry with the All Blacks before their Rugby World Cup final.

Cheika said the Wallabies will “lose impetus” in their preparations if they get diverted from the tough task ahead against the defending champions.

Australia and New Zealand will play each other in a World Cup final for the first time on Saturday. Australia beat Argentina in their semi-final on Sunday while New Zealand defeated South Africa one day earlier.

“I don’t really know if rivalry will make much of a difference. Its nice for supporters,” Cheika said.

“If we get caught up in it we will lose impetus.”

Cheika added: “If you’re happy just to have made the final then its not sufficient, it just gets you a pat on the back.”

Cheika, who in just over a year in charge has revived the divided squad, said neither Australia nor New Zealand would be playing to lose.

“On Saturday there will be 46 pig-headed fellas out there trying to win,” he added.

“Anyone that is involved in rugby hates losing and that feeling when you sit in the dressing room afterwards with your teammates,” said the 48-year-old.

“You wouldn’t be playing the game otherwise. I know that’s the same for all footy players, soccer players, AFL players, you aren’t going out there to lose. That is the joy of the game.”

The Wallaby coach had encouraging injury news.

He said he had spoken to the team doctor and physiotherapist and “players who went in with injuries came out better than expected” but there are “some sore bodies” after the 29-15 win over the Pumas.

Fullback Israel Folau missed two matches going into the semi-final with an ankle injury and came off before the end on Sunday.

“He pulled up well, but was always going to go off after the injury he had. We felt that 60 (minutes) was about his duration after an ankle injury and the fatigue that was coming. We didn’t want him limping off later.”

Cheika said that prop Scott Sio, who was absent Sunday with an injured elbow, was running. “We will see how he goes in training in scrummaging.”

Matt Giteau, who also came off in the 44th minute on Sunday with a groin injury was “better than we thought he might be. He’s feeling a lot better.”

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